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CAMPAIGN 2000

Election Day Is a Starting Point, Not the End, Nader Tells Supporters

November 06, 2000|SCOTT MARTELLE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader focused on his core campaign themes Sunday in a speech that was at once a plea for votes and a demand that supporters extend their political vision far beyond Tuesday's election.

Appearing at an exuberant rally of 7,500 supporters at the MCI Center, he also urged his backers to reject major-party candidates even in local races if more progressive contenders are on the ballot.

Votes for such candidates would "push this agenda, push this corporatized government of ours, in the right direction," Nader said.

Those attending the rally paid $10 each to get in, the last of 10 such events that have added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Green Party's coffers.

Nader argued that the reforms he seeks--primarily limiting corporate power--would allow more start-up companies with innovative ideas to flourish without fears of being trampled by wealthy conglomerates.

"We've got to free small business in this country," he said, condemning the steady pace of corporate mergers under Democratic and Republican administrations in the last 20 years.

Nader also predicted that his showing in the election will signal the resolve of the reform movement "to establish the reign of the people over this country, not the reign of giant corporations over our government and our political economy."

He told his audience it should look upon election day as a starting point, not an end. "Every major social-justice movement in our history was made" by grass-root efforts that defied conventional political wisdom, he said.

A recurring theme in the rally was that those inclined to support Nader ignore worries among Democrats that a vote for him could hand the election to the GOP nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Speaker after speaker repeated the phrase, "A vote for Nader is a vote for Nader," and urged supporters to not vote for the Democratic nominee, Vice President Al Gore, out of fear of a Bush administration.

The Nader camp hopes he will draw 5% of the popular vote nationwide to qualify the Green Party for federal matching funds in the 2004 race--a financial shot it says it needs to help propel the reform movement forward.

At Sunday's rally, filmmaker and progressive activist Michael Moore pointed out the anomaly of Nader, the anticorporate firebrand, speaking at Washington's MCI Center, so named after the long-distance carrier bought the naming rights.

Introducing Nader, Moore told the crowd, "[Nader's] back there making calls for 1 cent a minute, and he's calling you, America, to vote for him."

Nader continues his campaign with a trip that today includes appearances in New York City, Boston and Portsmouth, N.H., and a midnight rally in Portland, Maine.

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